I have heard a lot of good things about Lourdes, about the Lourdes miracles, about the Lourdes water and the pilgrimage experience. I have always wanted to visit this place since then. So when I was going to London last year, I planned for 2 days in Lourdes. I was pretty excited for the trip.
Lourdes is at south west of France, travelling by train from Paris, takes about 6 hours.
My aunt came along with me to Lourdes. She is a not a Catholic, while I am. My purpose of the trip was do my pilgrimage and to have some quiet times.
We got up early to catch the 06.30 am train to Lourdes the Montparnesse Station. It has a connecting train at Toulouse Matabiau. It was a pretty pleasant trip to start with. It left on time but on the way, there was delay, more and more delays. We kept looking at the time. It was almost time for the connecting train but we were still some way from the station. Both my aunt and myself though we said nothing and looked calm, we have panic attack. I said a little pray and left it to God, anyway … Finally, we reached the station, 10 minutes before the connecting train leaves the station.
We reached Lourdes at about 02.20 pm. The first thing was to check-in to the hotel. I have booked a room for two at La Residence Au Berceau de Bernadette. It is a small private accommodation with only 4 rooms. It has a prayer room in the accommodation too. I liked the serenity looking rooms and the reviews I read. As we were approaching the hotel, to our horror, the hotel was on a slope. OMG … That means we need to push our luggages along the altitude.
When we reached the private residence, we were informed by the property owner (a lady) that she did not have our reservation as … The reasons were not important to us, we just want our rooms. Luckily, she was very helpful. She found us a room at Hotel La Coupole, along the same road but it is down the hill. Phew… (La Coupole was the first hotel I booked for Lourdes as there was no available room initially at the Bernadette Residence. Later, somehow, room was available so I cancel the booking with La Coupole.) Knowing that we were first time pilgrim, she orientated us to the town, and gave us a map. She told us that the first task we need to do when in Lourdes is to go for confession.
After we check-in to the hotel, we headed for the Sanctuary. As we stepped in, we felt serenity was in the air. The place was lovely with lots of greens. Pilgrims were carrying rosary in their hands, praying at all times. There were lots of volunteers helping to run the Sanctuary, wheeling physically challenged pilgrims and provide assistance to whoever required. It was amazing. We participated in the afternoon procession and candlelight procession in the night as well. Candles could be purchased from the shops in town. There are lots of shops in the town selling similar items, do check out the prices before buying.
The candlelight procession was such a marvellous experience. Somehow, no one was there to tell anyone what to do but the whole procession turned out to be so orderly. The physically challenged faithful were right in the front with volunteers assisting them and the rest of us just fall in after them. During the procession, each faithful, carry a candle, helping their neighbours to light theirs candle whenever it got blow off by the wind. As we walked, we pray the rosary together. It was a lovely sight.
On day 2, we attended the English mass at 9am at the Chapel of St Cosmas and Damian, located on the second floor of the Accueil Jean Paul II building. We strolled around the town, following St Bernadette’s footstep, did the Way of the Cross (high station). We went to Pic du Jer to enjoy the scenic view of Lourdes as well.
We love this place. If possible, I would want to re-visit this place and would plan to stay for a little longer. I hope it would be a smoother trip the next time.
PS: I have written a post on Lourdes as an attraction, you can read to find out more about Lourdes here.